Why do I lose my hearing when I yawn? © Getty

Why do I lose my hearing when I yawn?

An ingenious muscle which stops up being deafened by deafening us just a little.

Asked by: Adrian Sinclair, Salisbury


This is due to a muscle in your middle ear called the tensor tympani, which is attached to the small ‘hammer’ bone that transmits sound from the eardrum. The muscle automatically contracts to reduce our hearing sensitivity in response to a sudden loud sound like thunder, and it also contracts as we chew, so we aren’t deafened by the sound of our own jaw muscles. Yawning also involves jaw movements that trigger the tensor tympani, though, so a side effect is that we get deafer during a yawn.

Why do we yawn? © Getty Images


Subscribe to BBC Focus magazine for fascinating new Q&As every month and follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter for your daily dose of fun facts.